CHR decries alleged incident of students abuse in Kalinga, recognises DepEd investigation

CHR decries alleged incident of students abuse in Kalinga, recognises DepEd investigation

BAGUIO CITY — The regional office of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) condemned on Tuesday, 6 September, the alleged child abuse and corporal punishment experienced by two elementary students in Kalinga.

A video circulating online shows a few students in front of the class trying to solve mathematical problems on the board. Two of the students seem to be struggling in the exercise. Appearing frustrated, the teacher went behind the students and forcefully hit the students’ backs and pinched their ears.

“Abuse of and violence against children learners should stop and never be tolerated as forms of teaching and discipline in schools,” Atty Romel Daguimo, Regional Director of CHR CAR, stressed.

International obligation

CHR CAR reminds that, under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), children should be protected from all forms of physical and mental violence, injury and abuse, and neglect or negligent treatment and maltreatment.

The Philippines signed and ratified the UNCRC in 1990.

“It is the policy of the State to defend the rights of children to assistance and special protection from all forms of neglect, abuse, cruelty, exploitation, and other conditions prejudicial to their development. Child abuse like physical abuse and acts or words which debase or degrade the intrinsic worth and dignity of a human being is punished by law,” Atty Daguimol added.

School administrators, teachers, or individuals engaged in child care and exercising parental authority are urged to refrain from inflicting corporal punishment upon a child. Atty Daguimol recalls that, under the Child Protection Policy of the Department of Education (DepEd), child abuse, violence and other forms of abuse are not tolerated in schools.

“We remind teachers and other school personnel that in their exercise of substitute parental authority and responsibility over children learners, they must ensure that schools are conducive to education, and the best interest of the child shall be the paramount consideration in all their actions consistent with the principle of First Call for Children as enunciated in the UNCRC,” Atty Daguimol said. “Every effort shall be exerted to promote the welfare of children and enhance their opportunities for a useful and happy life.”

Pursuing accountability

The Department of Education, Schools Division of Kalinga, on Wednesday, 7 September, has since issued a statement saying that it “does not tolerate any form of abuse toward children.” Similarly, DepEd Kalinga reports conducting an investigation on the incident following an order from their CAR regional office.

“In these lines, DepEd Kalinga reminds teachers and non-teaching personnel to subject their words and actions to the highest ethical and professional standards at all times,” they added.

DepEd Kalinga notes that the incident was recorded in April 2022 in a school in Tinglayan, Kalinga. The two students seen in the video were then in Grade 5 and are now in Grade 6. It was only this August 2022 that the video was uploaded until it became viral the following month.

“Teachers, as public servants, must always maintain a safe and nurturing environment for students, free of physical, verbal, and other forms of abuse and discrimination. As we celebrate the Teachers’ Month, DepEd continuously strengthen[s] its policies and capacity-building activities to further promote our advocacy of protecting our learners against any form of abuse,” DepEd Kalinga reminded.

CHR notes the recent actions of DepEd and is is already monitoring DepEd’s investigation of the case through CHR CAR in keeping with CHR’s mandate to independently ascertain government’s compliance to its human rights obligations.

“We urge the [DepEd] to continue to perform its constitutional duty to inculcate love of humanity, respect for human rights, teach thee rights and duties of citizenship, strengthen ethical and spiritual values, develop moral character and personal discipline, encourage critical and creative thinking, broaden scientific and technological knowledge, and promote vocational efficiency.”

“It is also encouraged to strengthen the implementation of a positive and non-violent discipline of children which is a way of thinking and a holistic, constructive, and pro-active approach to teaching that helps children develop discipline, appropriate thinking and behavior in the short and long term,” CHR CAR underscored.